The Bad News (At Work)

I mentioned getting some bad news at work the other day. And I did. Some very surprising, and very shitty, bad news.

Turns out, the construction project whose delay left me without a room this year, is not projected to be finished for the next school year either.

How is that possible? you ask. Very good question.

Evidently the company they contracted to bring in re-purposed freight crates (or some such thing) to make into classrooms, has only delivered 9 of the 72 units. Yes, they are in breach of contract. Yes, legal steps are being taken. Yes, this is an insanely frustrating situation. Yes, they are doing all they can to remedy it.

So the school that is supposed to move into the campus that is supposed to be built from these not-materializing units can’t move, which means they can’t vacate their spaces for us to “modernize” and move in. Their move-in date, which was originally pushed from the beginning of this school year, to the winter break, to the February break, is now being pushed indefinitely. And since they want to do some “modernization” to the space they are leaving, we definitely won’t be moving into the their space in the fall, even if, by some miracle, the units materialize before summer.

I found out on Monday, from a friend, because I missed the last-minute meeting that was called for 8:05am. I will admit, I cried.

Not having a classroom this year has been REALLY hard for me. I am currently teaching in FIVE different classrooms, sharing space with FIVE different teachers. I would always be sharing one classroom because they aren’t going to give me my own room on the campus where I only teach one period, but it’s really hard not having a home base at my own campus.

I literally walk between classes with a wagon full of Spanish books (for the 10 minutes of free reading that starts each class), and other resources I need. I spend a couple minute at the end of each class packing up my stuff, and all of the time between classes, moving it and set it up again somewhere else. I am frequently late. I am constantly leaving things I need in other places. It’s a totally fucked up situation, and it’s making me crazy.

I’ve been really miserable doing it, but I kept telling myself that it’s only one year. It’s only one year! I can do anything for one year, right? Now that I know it’s two years, I’m losing my mind.

Shouldn’t they move the burden to someone else? you ask. Yes, maybe the should. But they probably won’t. They aren’t yet sure what they are going to do. It’s only late October, after all. We aren’t even finished with the first trimester. They will hem and haw and say they are “trying to figure it out,” but in the end, it will be me who doesn’t have a classroom again next year. I am prepared for this.

The reality is, this is a seriously fucked up situation for the school district. The one year delay created massive parent outrage – I can only imagine how pissed all those entitled white folks are now that it’s become a two year delay. They are currently paying a full time principal and secretary for a 4th/5th grade “upper elementary” school that has teachers and students on three campuses (seven 5th grade classes on our campus, four 4th grades at one elementary school and four 4th grades at another elementary school). They have half of those 4th grade classes in portables taking up blacktop and playground space because those campuses are also impacted. The superintendent left in October to take a position at a bigger district farther south and isn’t here to deal with any of it, or get shit on for a situation he helped create, and we only have an interim superintendent until they find someone new. The whole thing is a cluster fuck of epic proportions. My not having a room is quite literally the LEAST of these people’s worries, and I expect that will be evident in how it’s handled.

But aren’t you looking for a new job in the spring anyway? you ask. Well yes, that was the plan. But honestly, I was seriously considering NOT looking for a new job again, because I’ve really been liking this new way of teaching, and I know a high school would never go for it. Create your curriculum around stories the kids make up, without focusing on any predetermined vocabulary themes? No one at the high school level would ever go for it. I’d have to teach out of a textbook for at least two years, maybe forever.

And everything I’d need to do to be a competitive contender in the spring… it’s just so much on top of not having a room at work, and everything else I’ve committed to. I just don’t know how I’ll find the time, or energy.

Also, I really don’t want to get rejected over and over again, like last year. And I don’t see how I’ll be more likely to get a job next year. Nothing, really, will have changed. I still won’t be a native speaker. I still won’t have experience teaching high school. I still will just be… me.

So yeah, I was actually planning on staying put next year, moving back into my old room and just enjoying a year of not doing this fucking bullshit again.

Except I will be doing this fucking bullshit again. And it’s really bumming me out.

I know I have a lot of time to think about how I’m going to move forward. I haven’t looked to see if our contract protects me from being in this situation for a 2nd year (it probably doesn’t have language specific to this situation, because this kind of thing doesn’t happen much, but it’s worth looking). I haven’t thought much yet about trying to find a high school and being resigned to teaching out of a textbook for a couple years (until I get tenure), or forever. The reality is, even if I do look for a job, I probably won’t get one, and I’ll be stuck moving from room to room, just like I’m doing this year. It’s not like looking for a new job is guaranteed to get me out of this situation.

And maybe I could leverage the shiftiness to get some stuff I want. As it is, I get to school after our official starting time most days, and I leave early a lot, and no one says anything. That flexibility is very much appreciated. Maybe I can convince myself that another year of it is worth not having a room….

I know it could be worse. I know I could be out of a job entirely. I know this. I’m trying to remember. I’m trying to find ways to make this more doable, now that I know it’s not as temporary a situation as I first thought. I’m trying to just keep my thoughts from veering into the territory of hopeless and depressed. I’m trying to find the silver lining. But right now it’s hard. The only thing keeping me going was knowing next year would definitely be different. Now that I know it will definitely be the same, I’m not sure how to stay positive. It just sucks. And I’m really upset. And I guess that’s okay for right now. I just need to keep it all in perspective.

11 Comments

  1. So I know you don’t plan on job hunting given the situation you’re dealing with above, but have you considered just throwing your hat in he ring to see what is out there? Yes job hunting is a complete pain and a lot of work. And there is always rejection. But the flip is what if you found a situation that encouraged you to teach the way you want, gave you defined space to work in and made you excited about work again? Yes, I know you’ve talked about your benefits package and your pay and trying to match that. It’s likely you won’t. But all that also comes with your current situation and the real fact that you will be told to suck it up.

    I recent put together an application package with Carney Sandoe. It’s likely not going to yield anything, but one never knows where opportunities will appear and then best ones for me have come through chance connections and just being open. So my vote is to apply and apply broadly.

    1. One of the reasons I’m concerned about applying again, without feeling like I’ve really changed my situation, is there just aren’t a lot of high schools in the two districts that I want to apply to (the two that don’t lengthen my already long commute and that have a pay salary comparable to my own). I don’t know how applying at them all, and being rejected, will help my chances. Surely I will start to look desperate for me to be applying to the same places I have applied to before, year after year. I think I should just wait until I have something new to bring to the table, like a high score on a fluency test, or a really impressive portfolio, neither of which I think I’ll have accomplished by the spring.

      1. There’s that outlook. But the other is that people hire who they know. And part of getting known is putting yourself out there.

        But this is also why I’m encouraging you to consider working with a recruiter. They can help you navigate some of this and a lot of this game (education included) is who you know.

        So even if you don’t apply for positions, I would start spreading the word that you are interested in exploring your options. It is one benefit of being tenured.

  2. That sucks. I would def check with your union—seems totally different unfair that YOU would get shafted again. I mean, every other teacher but you has a classroom? Can’t they pick one other teacher for you to share with so you could at least leave your shit in one place? This is ridiculous.

    1. Every teacher has students in their room 5 out of the 6 periods, so there is no one teacher I could share with. We both would have to be teaching less than 50%. And it is a big pain in the ass for the teacher I am sharing with, because I am in his or her room during their prep. When they are supposed to be planning, grading, and copying. So they have to find some other space to do that unless they want to listen to me and my students in class.

  3. Every idea I have had would make you a PIA to others and canceling the language program all together at your school is not part of a desirable solution.
    Wondered if math teachers could change classrooms with less material to tote around but think such a suggestion would mean PIA = you. Teachers absolutely should use teacher lounge not empty classrooms to do their prep work since space is limited.
    Depressing for all impacted! Be sure any evaluation includes HUGE mention of you being cooperative under severe conditions……

  4. I know this is not the point, but your new teaching approach sounds really cool and I’m glad you are enjoying it!

  5. I teach high school science and we have always had teachers sharing rooms and using a cart to move around. It was hard when I had to at the beginning of my teaching career. I have had a room for a long time now, still switch rooms when needed for labs and it is amazing how much time it requires. Logging into a new computer every hour and remembering all of the materials is a pain. I get a lot done during my 6 minute passing periods since I stay in my own room. Sorry you are in this position and hope it improves.

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